With the release of an information brochure outlining initial plans and impressions for the redevelopment of the Research Centre at Loxton Premier Weatherill flashed the green light for the go ahead of this major project when he visited the region again this week.
Over the past decade, the regional community has increasingly voiced concerns as more research programs, managers and scientists have been relocated, redeployed or retrenched.
In 2010, following the locust scare, with the guidance of Kevin Pfeiffer OAM and strong support from the Grains sector, the region’s Horticultural Reference Forum urged both Federal and State politicians to count the opportunity cost of standing by while one of the regions primary production icons slipped further into decline. In early 2012, the primary producers presented an idea to the then Federal Minister for Regional Development, Simon Crean to consider the merits of a regional Business Centre for all Primary Producers. He was impressed and offered strong encouragement. Likewise, in September 2012, Premier Weatherill embraced the concept and set about finding the funds as part of the MDB Plan outcomes. Riverland Wine has been a keen advocate throughout. With this week’s commitments there is renewed belief the Centre will emerge, once again, as a place of innovation and excellence with the potential to be recognised globally as well as at the regional and State level. The business Centre for all primary producers will be integral to the whole program.
The ball is now fair and square in the hands of the region’s producers. PIRSA Chief Executive Scott Ashby has expressed enthusiasm and support saying “if we get it right for this region, this Centre could well serve as a pilot for rural and regional communities across South Australia and beyond”.